We met Enzo Infantino, a volunteer from Palmi (RC), who recently returned from Camp Idomeni in Greece, a place that symbolizes the plight of refugees, on the border with Macedonia. In this interview he talks about his experience and the initiative of solidarity in Calabria, which sees him among its leaders.
You’re just back from Idomeni, Greece. A place sadly notorious now, throughout the world to the plight of refugees who are stuck there, after the Macedonian government decided to seal the border. Want to tell us what you saw, and what the situation is there?
In Idomeni it is hell, desperate humanity, on the drift, who so far have managed to survive thanks to the work of NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). We are talking about 12,000 people, mostly Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans, living in extremely precarious conditions, victims of violence, as those perpetrated against them by the Macedonian police, and the blindness of the European elite.
The risk now is that with the hot weather, can precipitate the situation from the hygienic point of view, with very serious consequences. On the positive side, there is certainly the work of hundreds of volunteers, there from every corner of the world. One of the most beautiful things, an achievement in which I also participated, was the setting up of schools for children of the field, with makeshift equipment, but also with the contribution of teachers, even university professors, present among the volunteers.
What are the feelings that you have collected from the people? What their dreams, their goals?
So much hope, despite everything. Don’t forget that they’re men and women and children, fleeing from war, leaving behind him the horror of terrorism, of DAESH. For most of them, the dream is to cross the border, to reach northern Europe, Germany, which is still their main goal. They had chosen the Balkan route thinking it was safer, but they were wrong: they’ve come face to face with the “Fortress of Europe.”
Are there any stories that struck you the most?
Yes, the story of a family of Aleppo, the Khalil family, two brothers with their wives, six children. Before the outbreak of the war in their country, this family owned a furniture factory, built kitchens. A small company with 17 employees. Now, their assets consists of 5 tents, with which they are camped at Idomeni. Of course, there are many stories like these, and show how refugees is the result of the wicked wars that have destabilized North Africa and the Middle East. Wars, of course, that also call on the West’s responsibility.
Recently, in Calabria, they have started a collection of basic necessities for the refugees Idomeni. How did this initiative come about? What’s actually involved?
I had just come back from Greece when I received a phone call from Josephine Cacciaguerra and Ciro Palomba, respectively international cooperative and volunteers of Morano Calabro. They wanted information about the situation in Idomeni and they told me that they were working on an initiative of solidarity, along with other people, even from across the region. From there began a collaboration which soon expanded to other groups, such as the Association “Viva la Vida” of Mormanno, founded by Nicholas Regina. In no time, thanks to the contributions that arrived from other Calabrian groups from Lungro, Gioia Tauro, Palmi, Catanzaro, Reggio Calabria, we have managed to gather a large amount of essential goods (products for personal care, baby food, instant baby food, underwear, medicines, etc.). It’s truly a great expression of solidarity, a great proof of humanity.
Now you are departing again to Idomeni. With what spirit?
We depart Thursday, April 21st from Brindisi, with two vans, loaded with goods, but also with the satisfaction of having seen in Calabria such sensitivity. I am happy to embrace the Khalil family, with whom I have close friendship, but also many others that now, in many ways, have entered into my life.